In 2012, members of our tasting panel reviewed more than 15,500 wines from around the world. Tasting that many wines isn’t easy, but keeping track of them all and remembering what to buy next time you’re at your favorite retail shop is an even more difficult task.
Luckily, Wine Enthusiast has got you covered. Knowing there’s nothing quite like an end-of-year list to sum up the best of the best, we offer three distinct guides for all of your wine needs: the Top 100 Best Buys (wines for $15 or less, published in November), the Top 100 Cellar Selections (age-worthy, highly rated collectibles, published in early December), and now, The Enthusiast 100.
The Enthusiast 100 is our special yearend roundup. While all of the wines featured are highly rated by our critics, in creating this list, we consider many factors, including the wine’s quality-to-price ratio , drinkability, availability and uniqueness. We also strive to provide as diverse a list as possible, reflecting the range of styles, varieties and regions we’ve reviewed over the past 12 months.
The result is a list of wines that should not be missed, and wineries to definitely keep on your radar in the years ahead.
Full bodied and richly tannic, Lehmann’s 2006 Mentor is dark, chocolaty and intense, with further nuances of cassis and cigar box. The finish is chewy and juicy, simultaneously drying and mouthwatering. Drink 2015–2023.— J.C. (5/1/2012)
This opens with a plush, dark appearance and generous aromas of ripe fruit, tobacco, hazelnut and bitter chocolate. It delivers balance, determination and polished tannins.— M.L. (9/1/2012)
This very limited, concrete-egg-fermented, and thoroughly splendid Pinot Gris is a good indication of the potential for PG in Oregon if the price limitations are lifted. Stunningly rich with citrus, lemon curd, ripe apple and light tropical fruits, this concentrated, deeply driven wine is both roundly full and amazingly dense. Certainly the best Oregon Pinot Gris…— P.G. (3/1/2012)
Few wines in the world can boast this concentration of ripe, flashy fruit. It’s decadent and enormous in blackberries, cherries, currants, licorice, bacon and spice flavors, which are all melted into the perfect fusion of alcohol and warmth, and elaborated with smoky, toasty oak. With its level of elegance, this is wonderful now, and it should drink well over the…— S.H. (9/1/2012)
An impressive Barolo from a tricky vintage, this shows bold aromas of blackberry, prune, plum and cherry liqueur. There’s a plush richness on the palate that softens those tight, young tannins.— M.L. (9/1/2012)
Glaetzer’s wines have moved in a more savory direction in recent vintages, and the 2009 Bishop displays plenty of tarry, treebark and black olive notes. It’s mouthfilling and round, picking up hints of sweet fruit, framed by mocha and cocoa. Finishes long and intense; drink now–2020.— J.C. (2/1/2012)
The poster child for Tardieu’s winemaking style is this 2009 Rasteau. It features masses of luscious oak—toasted coconut, cedar, vanilla—with just enough raspberry fruit to support it. It’s full bodied and lushly textured, even a bit dessert-like despite being totally dry. Probably best consumed on its own over the next few years.— J.C. (7/1/2012)
Gorgeously ripe fruit packs this wine with tropical flavors of cantaloupe, apricot and papaya. Lemony acid keeps it fresh and vibrant, and the overall texture and complexity are a revelation. Both of Evening Land’s Chardonnays elevate the grape to new heights in this part of the Willamette Valley.— P.G. (12/1/2012)
This shows enormous personality and distinctive aromas of rosemary, bay leaf, sweet cherry, prune, spice, cola and tobacco. Made in a large, bold style, it delivers plush layers of sweetness and softness, with a touch of heat on the finish.— M.L. (11/1/2012)